About the Fund
How are we closing the digital divide?
* Note: increases in Years 4 and 5 are contingent on a review of the Fund in Year 3.
To be awarded: $750 M for the first five years
|Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Year 4||Year 5|
|$100 M||$125 M||$150 M||$175 M||$200 M|
Canada’s vast landscape, with its varying geography and climate, presents unique challenges to the provision of high-quality broadband Internet access services for all Canadians. In particular, many rural and remote areas do not have services that are comparable to what is offered in urban centres, in terms of speed, capacity, quality, and price. The CRTC recognizes this problem and has set out a Universal Service Objective:
Canadians, in urban areas as well as in rural and remote areas, have access to voice services and broadband Internet access services, on both fixed and mobile wireless networks.
- Modern telecommunications services – The path forward for Canada’s digital economy (Telecom Regulatory CRTC Policy 2016-496)
To meet this objective, existing infrastructure across Canada needs to be upgraded and new infrastructure needs to be built. This requires a great deal of time and money and a collective effort from all levels of government and the telecommunications industry. The CRTC has established the Broadband Fund to help provide all Canadians with access to broadband Internet and mobile wireless services. During its first five years of operation, the Fund will award up to $750 million to projects that help achieve this goal.
How is the success of the Universal Service Objective measured?
To measure the successful achievement of this objective, we have established several criteria, including:
- Canadian residential and business fixed broadband Internet access service subscribers should be able to access speeds of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 10 Mbps upload, and to subscribe to a service offering with an unlimited data allowance; and
- The latest generally deployed mobile wireless technology (currently LTE) should be available not only in Canadian homes and businesses, but on as many major transportation roads as possible in Canada.
Are the Broadband Fund’s eligibility and assessment criteria final?
The policy detailing the Broadband Fund and its criteria, Telecom Regulatory Policy 2018-377, is final. We may conduct future consultation processes to review the eligibility and assessment criteria for the Fund as needed.
Who benefits from greater broadband access?
The Broadband Fund is intended to benefit all Canadians who live in areas that are underserved (i.e. that do not have broadband Internet access and mobile wireless services that meet the Universal Service Objective), particularly those in rural and remote areas.
Canadians looking for information about whether funded projects will benefit their area can do so on our website, as the selected projects are announced.
How is funding awarded?
To ensure that funding is awarded fairly and with the greatest benefits to Canadians, the following process is in place:
- Calls for Applications
The CRTC issues calls for applications that address the service gaps in Canada.
- Eligibility, Assessment and Selection
A team at the CRTC reviews each application for eligibility. Next, it evaluates each eligible proposed project against the assessment criteria to identify a set of high-quality projects, from which the CRTC selects projects for funding, based on project selection considerations.
- Eligibility, Assessment and Selection
- Approved Projects
Once the projects are selected, the CRTC publishes a decision to announce the projects that are awarded funding.
- Monitoring and Compliance
Funding recipients are required to submit data on the broadband and/or mobile wireless services they provide using their funded infrastructure. The CRTC publishes these data in its annual Communications Monitoring Report (CMR).
- Calls for Applications
Where does the money come from?
Funding does NOT come from tax revenues.
The funding comes directly from contributions made by large Canadian telecommunications service providers whose total annual Canadian revenues amount to at least $10 million.
What kinds of projects are funded?
Funding is provided to three types of projects:
Project Type New or upgraded… Potential Benefits to Canadians Transport Project … broadband Internet transport network capacity to one or more interconnection points
- Provides higher capacity in terms of speeds, better quality of service, and greater data allowances for underserved communities
- Results in better broadband Internet access service and better service packages with higher speeds and data allowances
Access Project … fixed broadband Internet access network infrastructure to connect communities to an interconnection point on the transport network
- Provides many social benefits including new ways to provide education to Canadians, to deliver quality health care, to access and distribute information, to find employment, to access government services, and to participate in democracy
- Facilitates economic benefits such as the development of inventions and new goods, different services, and innovative processes and business models
- Increases economic competitiveness
Mobile Wireless Project … mobile wireless network to communities and/or along major transportation roads
- Positive impacts on Canada’s public safety such as emergency calling and first responder connectivity, especially in communities and on highways that do not currently have access to mobile wireless services
What are the Universal Broadband Fund and Canada’s Connectivity Strategy?
The Universal Broadband Fund is Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s (ISED) program to enhance connectivity for all Canadians.
Canada’s Connectivity Strategy, led by ISED, is a commitment to connect every Canadian to affordable, high-speed Internet no matter where they live, and to improve mobile cellular access from coast to coast to coast.
Does the CRTC provide regulatory oversight and help define eligibility requirements for the Universal Broadband Fund and Canada’s Connectivity Strategy?
No, we do not provide regulatory oversight of the Universal Broadband Fund and Canada’s Connectivity Strategy. However, we are committed to working with all levels of government, where appropriate, to achieve the goal of providing fixed and mobile wireless broadband Internet access services to underserved Canadians. We established the Broadband Fund to assist in funding projects to build or upgrade access and transport infrastructure for fixed and mobile wireless broadband Internet access services to achieve the Universal Service Objective, in order to close the gap in connectivity in underserved areas. Federal departments, as well as some provincial, territorial, regional, and municipal governments, also provide funding through their own broadband initiatives.
Is the information submitted in applications to the Broadband Fund shared?
The Telecommunications Act has been amended to expand the CRTC's obligation to share information regarding Broadband Fund applications (sections 46.8-46.91). Upon request, application information, including project details and application status for submitted applications, will be shared with federal departments and agencies that fund telecommunications infrastructure in underserved areas, and may be shared with provincial or territorial departments or agencies. Those departments and agencies may use the information only to coordinate financial support for access to telecommunications services in underserved areas. This is in addition to the CRTC’s existing obligation to share information with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and with the Chief Statistician of Canada.
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